Flying can be an exciting or frightening experience for seniors. For aging adults, certain groundwork is vital before traveling. Here are a few important tips to promote a safe flight.
1. Obtain a Doctor’s Approval to Fly
For medical clearance, there are two forms that need to be completed by a doctor. First, go to the website of the airline your loved one plans to use and download the carrier’s medical form. Then, print up a TSA medical card. After receiving medical approval, your loved one should ask the physician for needed prescriptions and to complete the TSA card. On the airline medical form, the doctor should note:
- Your loved one’s medical condition
- A request for disabled seating on the plane
- Any medical equipment your loved one needs while flying
- Any hardware implants, which can trigger airport security alarms
On the day of departure, your loved one will need to present the finalized medical forms at the airline check-in desk, security checkpoint, and gate.
If your elderly loved one is living with a serious medical condition and needs help managing the tasks of daily living, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a Lincoln home care company you can trust. Our caregivers are available 24/7, there are no hidden fees in our contracts, and we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all of our in-home care services.
2. Consider Buying Travel Insurance
If your loved one has Medicare or Medicaid insurance, healthcare expenses will only be covered if they are incurred within the US. If sickness or injury occurs while abroad, he or she may have to pay for care out of pocket. This is why travel insurance is useful.
In the event your loved one cancels the flight reservation, he or she may have to pay an airline penalty. However, trip cancellation and interruption insurance can reimburse prepaid expenses when cancellation is made for medical reasons or hazardous weather. This insurance also reimburses the cost of lost luggage. Some travel insurance policies pay for lodging and meals if flights are delayed due to bad weather.
3. Pack Items Related to Health and Safety
Make four sets of copies of the following documents:
- Completed airline medical form and TSA card
- Medication list with the dosages and daily schedule
- Your loved one’s health insurance card
- Driver’s license or identification card
- Airline tickets
Place one set of copies in your loved one’s carry-on bag and one in the luggage. Forward a set to the people with whom your loved one will stay. Keep the fourth set at home.
In your loved one’s carry-on bag, pack either a telephone calling card or cellphone. Make sure all necessary phone numbers are either listed on paper or programmed into the phone.
Secure your loved one’s medication bottles in a plastic bag and place it in the carry-on. Include enough pills to last an extra two days.
A pill organizer is a helpful accessory while traveling, but keep it empty to pass through security. Add any portable medical equipment needed in-flight and pack a healthy snack. If your loved one needs assistance with mobility, include a fold-up cane in his or her luggage.
Airport regulations don’t allow passengers to go through security with bottled water. However, your loved one can keep an empty bottle in the carry-on and fill it after clearing the checkpoint, or he or she can buy bottled water after passing through security. It’s important to drink water during flights to keep blood sugar stable and prevent fatigue.
You should not pack medications in checked baggage. If luggage is lost en route or delayed in arriving at its destination, not having medicines on hand endangers your loved one’s health.
Consider taking a break from your caregiving duties to arrange for and pack your loved one’s medications or tend to other important tasks. If you are the primary caregiver for a senior family member and you need respite care, Lincoln, CA, Home Care Assistance is here to help. Our respite caregivers are trained to assist older adults with a wide variety of everyday tasks, including meal prep, physical activity, and personal hygiene. We also provide 24-hour care and specialized care for seniors with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s.
4. Dress Appropriately
To maintain balance and reduce the risk of developing blood clots during flights, your loved one should wear flat-soled shoes and compression stockings. While flying, your loved one should periodically flex his or her toes to maintain blood circulation. Encourage your loved one to walk the aisles every half an hour.
Wearing comfortable and loose apparel lowers the likelihood of clots, heat stroke, and hypertension. If your loved one is prone to respiratory infections, wearing a face mask in-flight may reduce exposure to airborne germs.
Upon boarding the flight, your loved one should stow the carry-on beneath the seat in front of him or her, rather than keeping it in an overhead bin. This way, medications and other necessary items are readily accessible.
5. Expedite Check-In and Security Clearance
On the day of the flight, your loved one should arrive at the airline terminal two hours before the scheduled departure. This allows adequate time to check in, clear security, have a snack, use the airport restroom, and review travel plans.
If you’ve reserved check-in assistance for your loved one, he or she should state this upon arriving at the airport information desk. If your loved one is disabled or traveling by wheelchair, he or she is entitled to expedited security clearance.
In the event your loved one is flying alone, a designated companion can assist him or her through security. The person accompanying your loved one must show the security guard a government-issued ID indicating your loved one’s full name and birthdate.
If your loved one has hardware implants, show the airline medical form to the security guard. Rather than passing through the sensor door, your loved one may undergo a wand screening to avoid setting off a metal detector.
6. Board and Deplane Safely
At boarding time, listen for the call for disabled and elderly passengers. At the destination, it’s best for your loved one to wait for other passengers to deplane first. Then, aircraft personnel will be available to give your loved one focused assistance.
If your loved one has flown alone, have someone present at the destination to meet him or her at the gate. This person should plan to be there an hour before the scheduled arrival.
Some seniors prefer not to travel, while others may have medical conditions that make traveling difficult. Living with a serious health condition can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in care. Lincoln seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more. If your elderly loved one prefers to age in the comfort of home, call Home Care Assistance at 916.226.3737 today.